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Posted on: June 21, 2023

Committee Approves Barber Colman Agreement

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On June 20. the Planning and Development Committee approved a redevelopment agreement with J. Jeffers & Co, LLC, to redevelop the 26-acre Barber Colman Complex. Under the agreement, the campus, which has sat vacant for 22 years, will be renovated in multiple phases creating new market housing, new jobs and new vibrancy in southwest Rockford.

The full $430 million plan, which is expected to be completed over 10 years, includes 500,000 square feet of historical rehabilitation, 1.5 million square feet of new construction, 900 multi-family units and 130,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as public green space and an activated riverfront.

Phase 1A of construction will begin this summer and is expected to be completed in late 2024. The $100 million phase includes the renovation of three existing buildings into 215 apartments, a roof deck, co-working space and the creation of a parking garage with 336 spaces. 

Phase 1B, which is scheduled to begin in January of 2025 and cost $70 million, includes rehabilitation of all of the remaining historic buildings. When complete, it will house an additional 119 apartments, as well as space for a restaurant, events and other retail. 

Phase 2 consists of new construction on the remainder of the property and will be completed in multiple phases. The timing of these phases is dependent on market factors.  It will include new construction and parking, as well as 43 three-flats and 74 townhomes.  

“We have many lofty goals for this enormous project,” says Mayor Tom McNamara. “We want to remove blight, support our neighborhoods, engage our women- and minority-owned workforces and increase market rate housing unit. I’m proud to say that this project accomplishes all of those goals.”

The City is responsible for certain obligations for this project, including creating a new TIF District, reimbursement of tax increment financing, a financing advance, a loan and infrastructure reimbursement. The City also agrees to provide money from the US EPA Revolving Loan Fund and environmental settlement funds, as well as permit credits. The maximum out-of-pocket cost for the City would be $6.5 million. Should the site not be redeveloped, the demolition and environmental cleanup of the site would cost the City between $16 and $19 million. 

Based on an R1 Regional Planning Council study, the project will result in an accrued population increase of 2,710 people, and an accrued employment increase of 2,784 jobs through 2030. 

“I am thrilled to see another redevelopment project with many similarities to the successful renovation of the Ziock Building,” says Mayor McNamara. “In fact, the proposed Barber Colman development agreement with J Jeffers has the potential to provide a significant return on investment with less direct and indirect investment than the transformational and impactful Hilton Embassy Suites redevelopment.”

The redevelopment agreement will now go to full City Council for approval.

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